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Hunting for a Bride or a Bird?

“Allison Ketcherside – father of Suzanne Stevenson.” That’s all that’s written on the back of the photo. Well, that tells me something. Allison is my husband’s great-grandfather on his maternal side. The name stands out. It’s certainly not one that’s common today. But if we stop there, with only the family tree part of the story, what do we really know about Allison Ketcherside?

This particular photo has been hanging up in our house for years. It was a gift from my mother-in-law and it blends perfectly with our rustic motif. For nearly a decade, I thought nothing more about it. These two dressed up gentlemen could have come with the frame for all I knew. However, as I build my craft as a personal historian, life stories have almost become an obsession.

Photos and lineage just aren’t enough. Yet realistically that’s all most of us have. In fact, consider yourself lucky if you even have a name associated with a photo. How many photos do you have that are tucked away in a box and you have no idea who the person or person(s) are in the photo? I have many hundreds. I don’t want to throw them out…that seems incredibly disloyal. The folks in these photos are connected to me in some way whether they be family or close friends. How? I just don’t know.

I’ve walked past this photo a thousand times. It was time to learn more about Allison Ketcherside. My husband didn’t know much other than to say he lived in Yuma and was the county recorder. Not surprising, since he’d never met the man. Allison only lived to the age of 45. That means that even my husband’s grandmother only knew him until she was a young teenager. Luckily, my mother-in-law was able to fill in more details. Allison did indeed live in Yuma. He was born in Georgia but the family settled in Yuma where his father, a doctor, established the Yuma Heights Sanatorium in 1904. At that time, the AZ climate was considered desirable for treating patients with tuberculosis. And while the sanatorium may have proved beneficial for some, sadly tuberculosis caused the early demise of Allison.

I now have a little history of this man who is hanging in the hallway of our house. I know his lineage, I’ve seen his photo, but I can’t help but wish I knew more. The photo is intriguing. These two men are dressed well and posing with their guns. Are they going out hunting or heading for a shotgun wedding? The story behind the photo, and beyond the family tree, is most likely lost. When this was take, photographs were not common. My guess is this was a significant event of some kind and yet all I have is that hunch. Let this serve as a reminder to jot down or record the significant stories of your life. Even though mysteries are intriguing, future generations will appreciate knowing the actual stories of their ancestors. We all have a part in preserving our shared history and family legacy. With today’s many resources and even access to professional personal historians, there’s no reason for stories to become lost.

Here’s to you Mr. Allison Ketcherside – may your short life have been a full life and may you have been successful on your hunt whether it was for a bride or a bird!